arcana valentine’s day 2014


arcana_vday14Back in February Arcana released their Valentine’s collection, called The Beast, as well as a small trio of scents inspired by New Orleans. I ended up with samples of almost all of the scents (and multiples of a few) – some came from a decant circle, some from a generous sample offer by Julia, and the rest were free samples with Soapbox Co orders. I’ll be reviewing all but one scent from the main Valentine’s collection here, and then I’ll cover the New Orleans trio by itself, because this post is already going to be a million years long.

The Beast Collection

Afterglow:  It exists between ecstasy and quietude. The soft euphoria of white amber, vanilla bean, vanilla milk, Malbec grapes, Arcana’s own Lust blend, cognac absolute, and a drop of cool peppermint.

Straight out of the vial I get cool grape and peppermint, with a strong dose of white amber. The white amber is kind of fuzzy and cloudy, which is… appropriate. Wet on skin the grape and peppermint are still the strongest notes. I get a bit of vanilla, and the white amber is there, but it’s not going crazy, which is rare for me. (Though I do tend to have much better luck with Arcana’s ambers than most other companies.) As it dries down the sweet vanilla milk makes more of an appearance, smoothing out the fruity grape. Once it’s completely dry the peppermint is mostly just a ghost, providing a coolness to the whole affair.

I said the amber wasn’t going crazy, and it’s not, but my losing streak with white amber in particular continues – the more I sniffed at this, the more it gave me a headache. It’s a shame because find this scent really interesting (grape isn’t a note you come across all that often) and quite pretty in the end.

Coitus Captivus:  An ensnarement of smoky, boozy sugarcane syrup with tiny hints of peach, red apple, pumpkin, and a warm grip of treacle.

In the vial this is WHOA SMOKY. Like, nostril-flaringly smoky. If I keep sniffing, I get some faint fruit and dark molasses underneath the smoke. Wet on skin the smoke is still strong, but the sweet molasses really comes up as well. After it dries down a bit, the fruitiness is more detectable, but it’s not a bright, fresh fruitiness – it’s more like the kind of caramelized harvest fruitiness that you usually find in fall scents. This seems very much like a fall scent to me, actually. In the end I’m left with a slightly sweet, dark, smoky molasses-y scent with faint whiffs of peach and apple. I don’t hate it, but the smoky molasses really makes me think of a barbecue.

It’s funny, though – I washed my wrist (twice!) before I worked out tonight, and the whole time I kept catching whiffs of something familiar. I sniffed my wrist again and it was this! Still! And what it was reminding me of was Solstice Scents’ Kitchen, which is a sweet, warm, peachy, slightly spicy scent – apparently after you try to scrub this one off, it turns into something very similar. Weird!

Limerence:  Blind hope buoyed by fixation and obsession. White tea, cotton candy, marshmallow, kush, blush musk, hibiscus blossoms, and a slash of dragonsblood.

In the vial I get mostly airy sweetness, a bit floral, with something green and almost bitter in the background. Wet on skin I get a lot of hibiscus and musk, and a bit of tea. That green, slightly bitter note (the kush, presumably) is still lurking in the background, but it stays quite strongly floral on me, with very little of that spun-sugar sweetness I smelled in the vial. I’m not a fan of most florals, so this one’s not for me.

Little Man in the Boat:  Serving no procreative purpose, the clitoris exists only for pleasure. Definitive proof that we were designed for bliss? Of course! Peach nectar and delicate musk dripping with Tupelo honey, Clover honey, and one dainty tuberose petal.

In the vial this is heavenly – strong honey and sweet peach with a slightly floral note. On skin the whole affair is softer, with the honey staying strongest. I get less peach and more tuberose (boo). Arcana’s honey is my favorite – it’s strong and sweet and deep, very much a thick, golden note, and it rarely goes powdery on me. As it wears I get a bit more of the peachy sweetness – not a ton, just a whiff here and there. The musk comes out more and intertwines with the tuberose and the whole effect is very heady. Once it’s dried down, the peach happily becomes a bit more prominent.

This is a definite bottle purchase for me.

Nymphomania:  Lusty Victorian ladies who foolishly admitted to liking sex wound up with this diagnosis. Eating too much chocolate, reading too many books, and wearing enticing perfumes were all among the causative factors. (Which explains a lot, no?) An indulgent blend of smoked frankincense, golden amber, warmly spiced vodka, thick myrrh, ruby guava, black tea, tobacco leaf, and pink pepper.

In the vial I get a blast of guava and then it’s all strong frankincense and amber. On skin the spices and resins remain at the forefront, but I also get the black tea and tobacco underneath, and occasional whiffs of guava. As it dries down the tea and tobacco come to the top, and I get just a hint of sharp pepper. The guava keeps popping in and out of the mix with little bursts of sweetness. It’s much softer at this point, far from the aggressive resin-heavy scent it started out as. It’s really interesting, and very evocative of the atmosphere it’s supposed to represent. And the combination of tobacco leaf and black tea is actually a very comforting scent for me – it reminds me of my dad, who drinks Earl Grey and used to smoke a pipe when I was younger.

What this dries down to is very different from what I get on cold sniff – it went from something I would’ve been inclined to scrub off to something I actually like quite a lot. I don’t know if I need a bottle (though if I caught one in an LJ sale I’d be tempted), but I will definitely hold onto my sample and and put it on now and then for happy nostalgic memory purposes.

Papillon D’Amour:  The butterflies of love. Warm skin musk and noir musk over apricot, dry ginger, a pinch of cinnamon, a nibble of mint, a bite of mace, and a tiny scratch of blackseed.

In the vial this is sweet apricot and cinnamon, a bit of spicy ginger, and a cool whiff of mint. On skin the apricot and cinnamon come out strongest, with the cinnamon quickly taking first place. I tend to amp cinnamon, so that’s not surprising. It is kind of unfortunate, however, because this mostly ends up smelling like Big Red gum on me. I hoped maybe the apricot would come out again once it dried, but nope – Big Red. Every time I went back to my wrist, it was just Big Red. So I’ll be passing on this one.

Tumescence:  Dragonsblood resin engorged with smoked labdanum, incense, blood amber, crimson musk, peru balsam, tree sap, and black pepper.

I don’t have a sample of this one! Just as well, since I probably wouldn’t like it much. But it exists, just fyi. And the name makes me think of Ms. Perky from 10 Thing I Hate About You.



This collection is still available from The Soapbox Co and The Rhinestone Housewife.

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